Its maiden voyage was one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history, taking the lives of over 1,500 souls. But the story of the ill-fated cruise liner Titanic has seemingly not dissuaded one Australian billionaire to cash-in on the ship’s image, instead proposing to the press yesterday plans to build a high-tech replica of the ship. The announcement comes just weeks after the Titanic’s centennial.
Scheduling to set sail on its maiden voyage in late 2016 from England to New York, like its namesake had planned a century ago, its maker is calling the Titanic II a “tribute to the spirit of the men and women who worked on the original Titanic.”
Bankrolled by Australian billionaire Clive Palmer – who made his estimated $5.2 billion fortune through real estate on Australia’s Gold Coast tourist strip, before moving into coal mining – the Titanic II proposes to incorporate “state-of-the-art 21st-century technology” and the very latest “navigation and safety systems”, while Palmer promises a ship “every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic” and one as close in size to the old one as possible. The iconic grand staircase of the White Star Line liner is a given to feature, as well as the four smoke stacks that stood tall above the original’s deck, though they will purely decorative in nature.
The most significant changes instead happen below the water-line, where the fundamental design flaws of the original were hidden from plain view. The rudder, always too small to be effective on the Titanic itself, will be significantly larger for increased manoeuvrability; the substandard, low-grade rivets will be replaced by welding. A bulbous bow, meanwhile, will improve fuel efficiency. Does this mean the Titanic II will truly be ‘unsinkable’, as many had believed when its progenitor set sail 100 years ago? “Of course it will sink, if you put a hole in it” Palmer told reporters, adding “Of course, if you are superstitious…you never know what could happen.” There’s tempting fate...